For decades, the waterfront community that serves as the county seat of Contra Costa has struggled to develop its downtown and marina into a dining, recreation and entertainment destination. Each election cycle, Martinez candidates usually complain about the progress.

This year seems different. Of five candidates for two seats, the three leading contenders -- incumbent Mark Ross, land use attorney Dylan Radke and municipal budget manager Anamarie Avila Farias -- recognize advances downtown. Appropriately, they are more focused on the financial challenges the city faces.

In our assessment, City Council members have done an acceptable job of navigating through budget obstacles. Although they have made cuts to eliminate the structural deficit, they haven't gone far enough to address pension costs by requiring workers to contribute their full share.

Ross stands out as the candidate who best understands the challenges and the next steps that must be taken. As the most veteran member of the City Council, he has an impressive command of policy details on everything from the budget to the marina and hillside development. For that reason, we endorse him for a fifth term.


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As for our second choice, Radke and Avila Farias would both serve capably, though each would have a significant learning curve. Neither candidate has a strong command of the city budget, especially the city pension challenges. We back Radke because of his insistence, unlike Avila Farias, that city bonds be used only for the purposes presented to voters when they were approved.